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Senate Summons Okonjo-Iweala Over NIPP

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... Abuja Airport To Be Converted To Hajj Pilgrimage Airport - Minister

ABUJA, October 17, (THEWILL) - The Senate on Tuesday summoned the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala to appear before it following an allegation that Nigeria Customs Service sold equipment acquired for the National Independent Power Project (NIPP). She was summoned because her ministry oversees the Nigeria Customs service.

The alleged sale was revealed by the Minister of Power, Dr. Bath Nnaji who was a guest to the Senate standing committee on Power. Nnaji said that the imported equipment for National Independent Power Project NIPP was sold by the Nigeria customs to electrical equipment marketers.

The Minister said the equipment was found in the Market and those people in possession of these equipments were arrested by Police, and it was discovered that the equipments were auctioned by the Custom to the public.

Nnaji said, “Those NIPP equipments were found in the market and later traced as equipment being auctioned by customs to the public. They use the police to apprehend them because NIPP were printed on it.”

Displeased by the development, the Senate immediately called for the appearance of the Finance Minister to come and confirm whether or not the allegation is true or proffer reasons behind the sale of those equipments.

The Senate further requested for the list of contracts awarded by the Ministry on NIPP and the amount of money paid to the contractors. They are scheduled to meet next week Tuesday.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Power, Senator Philip Aduda expressed displeasure at the zero-execution of some contracts approved by federal government on NIPP in spite the disbursement of funds for the contract.

He said, “A lot of these power contracts have been abandoned by the contractors, and government had paid money to these contractors. I hereby request for the list of the contracts approved in NIPP and the amount of money paid to the contractors. There are a lot of leakages in this country and we must find a way of stopping it.”

The chairman also requested for the list of prepaid meters in possession of Nigerian Electricity Regulation Commission (NERC) and the number of the prepaid meters they were able to fix. According to him, many people in the rural areas were in need of the prepaid meters rather than the estimated bills currently in use in most homes.

He lamented that some ministries, departments and agencies still owe the PHCN despite government provisions for the payment of electricity bills.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Odua-Ogiemwonyi Tuesday called on the state to build more airports, even as she decried the deplorable state of airports in the country today.

The Minister who spoke during an interactive session with the Senate Committee on Aviation however blamed the sorry state of airports on aging infrastructure and obsolete equipment just as she harped on the need for training and retraining of personnel for them to remain in form.

Outlining the road map of the ministry, she said in view of the 2012 plan of the federal government to ensure all revenue goes into the national grid, aviation industry targets to contribute 30 percent of the national GDP.

She added that the introduction of e-governance scheme is targeted at internationalizing the airport just as it will make for easy boarding at the airports. She stated that the Nnamdi Azikiwe domestic airport will be converted to a hajj pilgrimage airport.